April 2009 Archives

May has just started, and I'm already starting to hear more and more about the National Education Computing Conference coming up this summer. NECC, which is hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education, is taking place this year in Washington from June 28-July 1. And yes, I will be flying back to the East Coast to attend. In fact, all the DDers will be at the conference—covering the goings on and learning more about the latest trends in ed tech. I've never been to NECC before, and I'm very excited to attend this year. For you veteran ...


No one should be surprised to learn that today's young people have a different sense of workplace behavior than, say, Baby Boomers. But this survey, which I learned about at the Read Write Web blog, shows just how vast is the divide between the kinds of work habits, skills, and tools people of various age groups find efficient and appropriate. "The generation gap at work is really wide with vast discrepancies when it comes to what the appropriate use of technology is - a problem that leads to increasing tensions in the workplace," Sarah Perez writes in her blog post. ...


Mary Ann Zehr, my colleague over at Curriculum Matters, has posted a reminder about today's Ed Week chat on International Comparison tests, and a bit of analysis about the issue. She also has a link to the McKinsey report everyone is talking about. Mary Ann, Sean Cavanagh, and I have a series of stories in this week's paper about the growing interest among policymakers here in analyzing the successes of other countries, as related to the international assessments. We have reports on reform efforts in Australia, Slovenia, and South Korea. Her report is here. The OECD, which oversees the PISA, ...


In case you needed a reminder about how far we've come in using technology in schools, I thought I'd send you to the Ed Week archives. Greg Chronister, our executive editor, passed along this story which ran in Education Week 25 years ago this week. "Number of Computers in Schools Doubles," said the headline, above the lede, which read: "Microcomputers were added to thousands of public-school classrooms during the past year, according to a new survey." The story goes on to describe how nearly 70 percent, or 55,765, of the nation's elementary and secondary schools reported using computers for ...


In honor of Earth Day, I'd like to direct your attention to the resources on the Consortium for School Networking's Green Computing Initiative Web site. There, you can calculate your technology energy use and learn how you could save even more, find resources on where to buy green technologies and how to properly dispose of old technological equipment in an earth-friendly way, as well as tips on how to reduce waste and preserve the natural resources in your area. In addition, the initiative has recently launched a new, free certification program for tech. administrators who are particularly interested in making ...


A new report put out by the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder asserts that virtual education is growing at a rapid pace throughout the nation and suggests steps for policymakers to support high-quality virtual education for students. The first suggestion that the paper's author, Gene V. Glass, a regents' professor of education at Arizona State University, makes is to adopt new regulations to govern K-12 online learning. Policies should be set that define what certifications teachers should have, how much interaction they ...


It's getting increasingly complicated to keep students safe at school, especially as technology becomes more widely used in the classroom and for personal communication. Policies to keep students safe in the digital age are often crafted with painstaking detail to allow for a range of scenarios. But as this commentary piece in Sunday's Washington Post describes, the rapid pace of technology and trends in how it is used among young people make it difficult to keep up. And there's always the potential that such policies will have unintended consequences. Ting-Yi Oei, a school administrator in a Northern Virginia school district, ...


This AP article points to a possible change in the way virtual education will be funded in Idaho. Although it still needs to go through the Senate, the measure, backed largely by Republicans, allows schools to shift 5 percent of the money they use to pay teachers, which they either "use or lose," and put it into virtual education. One Republican asserted that this would be a big help to rural districts, which may not have the money to provide all the courses that larger, urban or suburban districts can offer their students. It seems to me that simply having ...


After 13 years at the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board, Bill Thomas, the director of the organization's technology cooperative, has retired. Myk Garn, previously the associate director of the cooperative, has now taken his place. I am definitely excited to get to know Myk better, but I admit that it's hard to see Bill go. He was a great help for me when I first started digging into online education for Technology Counts, and on one of his last days as director of technology for SREB, he shared lots of information in a webinar hosted by edweek.org about online ...


Yesterday, Pearson announced that they had officially acquired the National Transcript Center, which is one of the largest national transcript and student record exchange providers. From the press release: NTC’s comprehensive solution for securely exchanging electronic student transcripts and student records enhances Pearson’s ability to deliver integrated solutions to increase automation, digital workflow, and data quality in PK-20 education – enabling the development of longitudinal data systems to improve student success – a key element of President Obama’s education reform plan. Indeed, creating electronic transcripts that can easily follow students from school to school and even from high school ...


The 6th annual report on technology integration in U.S. schools, released by the State Educational Technology Directors Association last week, outlines some benefits of ed tech. Five trends highlighted in the report, resulting from federal funding under the No Child Left Behind Act, Title II, Part D: -- Integrating technology into education can lead to academic results, as reported by state directors. -- Options for virtual learning are on the rise. -- Professional development opportunities helped in integrating technology effectively in the classroom. -- More states are coordinating research studies around ed tech. -- More students can demonstrate tech ...


Turning the Internet into a safe space for students is a topic that permeates almost all the stories I write about ed-tech, especially when we talk about emerging technologies which make use of the collaborative nature of the Web. I had an interesting discussion yesterday with Rachel Smith, the vice president of services for the New Media Consortium, a network of organizations that examines new technologies. The security topic apparently came up quite a bit during the writing of the consortium's Horizon Report, which analyzes emerging technologies, their impact on education, and the time until they are likely implemented. Looking ...


It seems like these days I can't get online without hearing something new about the many uses of Twitter. For example, yesterday I was forwarded this article from The Independent about a proposed change to curriculum that would require school children in the UK to learn about Twitter and blogging as part of their everyday instruction. Advocates say that the focus on technology will both engage students and integrate technology in a meaningful way into all subject areas. But critics say that "tweeting" is a skill that only takes a short time to learn and doesn't have many other cross-over ...


This post on the edweek.org blog LeaderTalk, which is a group blog written by school leaders, lays out an all-too-familiar scene in today's schools in which the author of the post, Dave Sherman, finds out that one of his fellow administrators, who he admires, knows very little about Web 2.0 tools and resources. It starts with the principal asking what Skype is and after some digging, Dave finds out that the principal doesn't know about RSS, Google docs, Ning, del.icio.us, or other popular Web tools. Considering that in the past month I have explained and set ...


It is widely assumed among education technology enthusiasts that as younger teachers enter the classroom ed tech will gain more of a footing in improving learning. Younger teachers, common wisdom dictates, are more comfortable with technology and have broad experience using it in their everyday lives. Even so, it may take longer than we think for the teacher corps to be savvy and effective users of electronic and online instructional tools, according to an interesting study I came across on digital natives in teacher preparation programs. In an article in the Spring 2009 issue of the Journal of Computing in ...


A couple weeks back, school officials in Maine announced that they would be expanding their 1-to-1 laptop program. Now local school officials are beginning to question assurances that the program will be paid for and will not require any extra funds. Although schools would not have to pay extra for the laptops themselves, they are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of those computers, which may require hiring an extra staff member—a cost that the district will have to foot, say superintendents. I'm sure experts would agree with the superintendents that it's essential to hire an extra person to ...


Sean Cavanagh, my colleague over at Curriculum Matters, beat me to this story about a conference to help spread education throughout Africa with techology. "Next month, an effort to improve students' access to education in the developing world will be taking place in Dakar, Senegal. It's a conference run by an organization called eLearning Africa, which supports the use and distribution of basic technologies in schools across the continent. The event seeks to bring together nonprofit leaders, university officials, and IT experts with the expertise and connections to get school technology where it's needed." Sean reports that the eLearning Africa ...


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